Hidden Barriers to Happiness Blog

Have you always wondered about the invisible forces that affect your health, wealth and happiness?

As a neuroscientist, and then neuro and nutritional epidemiologist, I researched the underlying causes of mental and health problems.  Now as a Holistic Brain Health Practitioner, I regularly make new discoveries while working with clients.

Curious?   Sign up to get my Top 10 Tips for a Happy & Healthy Brain.  You’ll also get 2-4 newsletters month about the hidden barriers that get in the way of the life you really want!

What are you waiting for?  Knowledge is power!

The Easiest Way to Stop Negative Self-Talk for Good!

Posted by on Jan 15, 2019 in beliefs, beliefs, healthy brain, negative self talk, The Body Code | 0 comments

The Easiest Way to Stop Negative Self-Talk for Good!

My client walked into my office on guard. She was stiff and seemed unable to relax.  While she had a pleasant demeanor, she really seemed to struggle with being at ease in her own skin.  In short, she reminded me of me just a few years ago.

How the negative self-talk began

I learned that she had a narcissistic father who was very controlling and critical.  With him she felt like she was always under a microscope, and that with every move she would make, she could be judged harshly.   I knew exactly what that felt like.   It is suffocating!   That kind of treatment left us both with generalized anxiety, self-contempt and constant self-criticism.   We both were constantly on guard.  We struggled with knowing who to trust, and often felt defensive.  For both of us, making decisions was fraught with anxiety.   We would always be second-guessing ourselves, and overly concerned about getting things right.   For her, the self-criticism and questioning her judgment continued long after her decisions were made!

The powerful effects of releasing negative self-talk


Just One Thing You Need To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by on Dec 30, 2018 in change, growth, mindset, New Years resolutions, success | 0 comments

Just One Thing You Need To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

As the New Year approaches, it is a great time to start thinking about what we can do to improve. But if we don’t have a good track record with New Year’s resolutions, we might find the idea daunting. We might even be wondering if it’s worth doing. Indeed a 1study that tracked people who made New Year’s resolutions found that only 46% kept their New Year’s resolutions past the six-month mark.

How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

But all hope is not lost! If 46% of the subjects were able to keep their New Year’s Resolutions, then what was different about them that made that possible?


What To Do When They Won’t Listen

Posted by on Dec 15, 2018 in communication, empowerment, persuasion, Uncategorized | 0 comments

What To Do When They Won’t Listen

She won’t listen!

Christine was in a new business partnership with 2 others in Arizona.  She lived in Portland, and was stressed about this partnership.  Her partner in Arizona took on more much responsibility than she could reasonably do, and important procedures were missed and not attended to.  Christine tried to persuade her that she could do the accounting, and that they needed to have an overarching plan about how to distribute responsibilities.  But her business partner was too mired in what she was doing to listen.    She was stressed and frustrated by the potential consequences of what she foresaw happening with the business.   She needed to be heard and valued, but she was starting to worry that regardless of what she did or said, her partner wouldn’t listen.

We talked about how to get her needs met.

I told her (more…)

Hygge: The Key to Survive Winter Anywhere

Posted by on Nov 30, 2018 in happiness, mental health, self compassion | 0 comments

Hygge:  The Key to Survive Winter Anywhere

From Sunny California to long harsh winters

In my late twenties, I moved across the country to Rochester NY, known for it long, cold and harsh winters, with very little sun.   Luckily, I met friend who decided that given where I was from, that he was going to teach me how to survive winter in upstate NY.   When winter approached, he told me about the different types of clothing I needed to get to stay warm, and where to find them.  He also taught me how to embrace what winter had to offer.  He encouraged me to take up winter sports, like cross-country skiing, and ice-skating.

cross country skiing is a great way to survive winterIt worked!   While many of my peers complained about winter, I had skiing to look forward to.  Because of where we lived, I could ski from my doorstep!   Cross-country skiing even helped me get around on snow days when it wasn’t safe to drive!

Apparently embracing the snow is one strategy the Danish use to get through their long harsh winters as well!


How the Danish survive winter

Known to be the happiest people in the world, the Danish have a practice called hygge that keeps them happy and content no matter how cold or windy it is outside!

What is hygge?


Can a Narcissist Change?

Posted by on Nov 15, 2018 in abuse, narcissists, toxic relationships | 0 comments

Can a Narcissist Change?

My client Betty is always positive, kind and good-natured.  She asked me to work on some physical discomfort she was having.  But I always ask if I can check in with the subconscious to make sure there isn’t anything more important to address.   She agreed, and I discovered there was an issue at work that was causing a lot of stress.

Her coworker was harassing her.

Betty then revealed to me that a coworker was regularly coming to her cubicle to criticize or make negative comments about her work.   This coworker was also frequently making complaints about her to management.   She felt like she was walking on eggshells with this coworker.  The situation was so stressful, that she was even considering quitting, even though she loved her job otherwise!

She already had a reputation for being difficult.

Before Betty had arrived at this job just a few months ago, this coworker had already had a reputation for being difficult to work with.   Apparently several other coworkers had asked management for a reassignment from working with this woman, because she was known to be so critical!

Was she dealing with a narcissist?


How to Extract Yourself From the Scarcity Trap

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in Abundance, money | 0 comments

How to Extract Yourself From the Scarcity Trap

Nancy grew up in a lower middle class family, where she was taught that there was never enough.  While the family could afford to buy a home, and her parents could afford to travel, when it came to her needs, she was regularly told that there wasn’t enough.  Her parents claimed to not have enough to buy her a mattress that sank in the middle, a desk, clothes or supplies for school, and that there wasn’t enough to go to a good college.   Yet she had heard her financial advisors tell her parents that they were in good shape with their financial goals to retire, and had plenty for their children’s college.

Nancy wanted a job to pay for the things she needed, but her parents only let her work during the summers.

So Nancy grew up with the mindset that it would always be hard to get what she needed.   She worked extremely hard in school, and then in her jobs, but kept ending up in jobs with unsupportive bosses, who she could never seem to please.   Her life as an adult essentially mimicked that of her experience as a child.  She felt she would always have to struggle to get her needs met, and that she frequently panicked about not having enough, or running out of money.

Nancy was in the scarcity trap.

How scarcity affects your mind:


From Couch Potato to Gym Bunny

Posted by on Oct 15, 2018 in exercise, habits, motivation, sabotage | 0 comments

From Couch Potato to Gym Bunny

My client was getting married in a year, and desperately wanted to be in shape before her wedding.  She knew that one of her biggest challenges in losing weight was that she had no motivation to exercise.  The last time she had been to the gym was 3 years ago.  She recalled that she did not want to be there, and couldn’t wait until it was over!  It had been about 10 years since she had exercised regularly.

She never knew her dad, but had inherited her dad’s lack of desire in being healthy.  After releasing it, I asked her how she felt about working out, and she said neutral, which often happens before they’ve had a chance to process the work.

The following week, she told me that as she was driving home from her appointment with me, she felt this sudden urge (more…)

You Are Not Your Diagnosis

Posted by on Sep 30, 2018 in beliefs, growth, mindset, Uncategorized | 0 comments

You Are Not Your Diagnosis

I had a client who regularly reminded me of her diagnoses to justify her behaviors and struggles.  “I have bipolar disorder, and therefore I… “ ,  “I have autism, and therefore I…. “.   I’ve heard other mental health professionals rail against giving people diagnoses.  They’ve argued that it isn’t helpful, because labeling people, makes them feel limited by their diagnosis.

I told my client:   You are not your diagnosis!

I remember how relieved I was when (more…)

Reviving from Failure to Thrive

Posted by on Sep 15, 2018 in anxiety, fear, happiness, mental health, motivation | 0 comments

Reviving from Failure to Thrive

John would lock himself in his apartment for days, not talking to anyone.  After not being able to reach him for days, his mom stopped by his apartment and found pizza boxes and empty cans of coke and pepsi strewn throughout the apartment.  The place reeked with his body oder, moldy food and urine.

John had been struggling with severe mental health challenges for entire life.  In addition to depression, he had autism and oppositional defiance disorder.  He had a habit of alienating everyone he met, and so he was lonely and uninterested in life.  He was 385 Ibs, sedentary, and had diabetes.


Seven Questions to Create a Meaningful Life

Posted by on Aug 30, 2018 in growth, meaningful life, success | 0 comments

Seven Questions to Create a Meaningful Life

For decades, I was taught that I needed to accept what I could not change and have the wisdom to know the difference.    Despite years as a graduate student in Neuroscience and post doctoral fellowships in psychiatric epidemiology at the most prestigious medical schools in the country, whenever I saw a doctor or counselor at these same institutions, more often than not, I would be either told my problem wasn’t real, or that I just had to learn to accept it.

I had become disillusioned with Western medicine when I realized how little coursework my colleagues were getting in nutrition and lifestyle management, and how much coursework was dedicated to pharmacology.   There seemed to be an underlying motive in Western medicine that made me uncomfortable,  (more…)

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